Northern Ireland news

Poll show Sinn Féin surge to 35 per cent in south

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald

SINN Féin has surged to 35 per cent in the first poll held in the Republic since the party's success in last month's Dail elections.

The latest rise in the party's popularity represents a ten point increase on its election results.

The survey results come as parties in the south continue to negotiate in a bid to form the next government.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have said they will not enter government with Sinn Féin, which saw a huge increase in its support at the polls.

The Behaviour and Attitudes survey for the Sunday Times reveals that Fine Gael is down almost three points to 18 per cent while Fianna Fáil has dropped two points and is sitting on 20 per cent.

The smaller parties have also seen a drop with the Greens down one to six per cent and Labour down one to three per cent.

Solidarity/People Before Profit remain unchanged on three per cent while the Social Democrats are down one to two per cent.

Aontú has also suffered a drop and is down one point and currently sits on one per cent.

Sinn Féin's leader Mary Lou McDonald has also been given a boost when her satisfaction rating jumped by 13 points to 53 per cent.

Her nearest rival is Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who is down by 15 points to 31 per cent.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's rating has dropped by eight points to 27 per cent, with satisfaction with the government dropping nine points to 21 per cent.

Senior political figures have predicted that the poll results could force Fianna Fáil to reconsider its approach to Sinn Féin.

Senator Ivana Bacik suggested that the support for Sinn Féin is evidence of the public's anger at the exclusion of the party by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Ms McDonald said yesterday people who voted Sinn Féin are entitled to have their representatives respected.

“I don't think we have some automatic entitlement to be in government,” she said.

“I have never said that, and it's not our position, but I do think the people who vote for us have an entitlement that their representatives are respected to the extent we are not told that you, singularly and in perpetuity, are to sit on the sidelines.

“That is, to my mind, not democratic,” she told the Sunday Times.

Hundreds of people have attended Sinn Féin rallies on both sides of the border since last month's elections.

The party also claims that more than 3,000 people have applied online to join the party since polling day.

The Behaviour and Attitudes survey per centage of undecided voters is just 13 per cent, the lowest since the series began in 2011.

The poll was carried out in a series of face to face interviews with 917 eligible voters between February 17-25.

The margin of error is 3.3 percent.

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